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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 8, 2018

Eight Individuals with Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Plead Guilty to Embezzlement and Money Laundering

DENVER – As part of an ongoing investigation, eight individuals pled guilty this week to various charges involving funds embezzled from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe announced U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, FBI Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Calvin A. Shivers, and IRS-Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne. 

According to information contained in court documents, from at least 2011 through October 2015, Ute Mountain Ute (UMU) tribal members were entitled to receive utility benefits from the tribe to pay their utility expenses in annual amounts from $1,200 to $1,500.  Bills or other documentation were required to be submitted along with the application to the tribe’s Financial Services Department for processing and payment to the tribal members.  Additionally during the same time period, UMU tribal members had family plan accounts established when the tribal member was a child and from which the member could start spending the funds once they reached 18 years of age.  The funds in the family plan accounts, with accrued interest, usually reached approximately $10,000 by the time the member reached 18 years old.  These funds could be used to purchase things such as vehicles, home furnishings, and computers.  As with the utility benefits, the tribal member was required to provide invoices or other documentation to UMU’s Financial Services Department in order to request payment from the family plan account.

Beginning in at least 2011, certain employees of the tribe’s Financial Services Department caused fraudulent tribal checks to be generated in the names of people selected by the employees.   The people receiving the checks cashed the checks and usually shared the cash with the Financial Services Department employee who provided the check.  Initially, these fraudulent checks were falsely attributed to the utility benefits or family plan accounts of tribal members who did not request or receive the fraudulent checks.  Later, the fraudulent checks were generated without being attributed to any tribal member.  Several of the people who received the fraudulent checks were not tribal members and were not entitled to any tribal benefits.

In other instances, the Financial Service Department employees caused embezzled tribal funds to be sent via Western Union to selected recipients who would in turn provide a portion of the money back to the employee who sent the wire.  In some instances, embezzled tribal funds were wired to inmates with the Federal Bureau of Prisons who were not UMU tribal members and not entitled to any UMU tribal funds. 

The eight individuals who pled guilty before Magistrate Judge David L. West are:

  • Oraleigh Jaramillo aka Oraleigh Hammond – one count of Embezzlement, Conversion or Misapplication of Property from Indian Tribal Government receiving federal funds and one count of Money Laundering with restitution of $309,537;
  • Classia Rose Hammond – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $65,508.56;
  • Loia K. House – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $22,190;
  • Darrell Jonah Lee – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $142,411;
  • Kevin Ryan Lee – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $89,132;
  • Myreon Lehi – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $23,280;
  • Ladelda Lopez aka Ladelda Box – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $34,823; and
  • Jennifer Ann Pioche – one count of Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that had been converted or willfully misapplied with restitution of $106,497.

Additionally, Gloria Lee aka Gloria Rouillard, aka Gloria Lopez made her initial appearance on an Information charging one count of Embezzlement, Conversion or Misapplication of Property from Indian Tribal Government receiving federal funds and one count of Money Laundering. 

Embezzlement, Conversion or Misapplication of Property from an Indian Tribal government receiving federal funds carries a penalty of not more than 10 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.  Money laundering carries a penalty of not more than 20 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000.  Receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization that has been converted or willfully misapplied carries a penalty of not more than five years of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of not more than $250,000.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.   This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Pegeen D. Rhyne.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Updated February 8, 2018